A pleasant breeze is blowing over Noyal-sous-Bazouges on July 28. It is 7 p.m., the temperature is 20 ° C. There is only one place left in the church parking lot. The small village of Ille-et-Vilaine is the starting point for the “freshness hike”, organized every Wednesday in summer by the Rando Bazouges association. Two hours of walking, at nightfall, to take advantage of milder temperatures.
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On her notebook, Martine Brindejonc counts those present, 40, out of 130 members and occasional participants, 7. The latter pay her € 1.50 participation, to be covered by the group’s insurance in the event of an accident. No masks, the French Hiking Federation advises against them: they fog the glasses and can cause falls.
Oaks and chestnut trees soften the temperature
The idea of walking, under the foliage of trees, at a time when the summer heat is diminishing was born about twenty years ago. Marcel Fleury, “historic” president of the association, admits that he no longer remembers the exact date. For some time now, he has not participated in it – “I have 86 years old so I take care of myself “, but wanted to come and greet the participants of the day.
A whistle blows. It’s 7:30 p.m., time to leave. The small group sets off on the main street, due east. The pace is steady. Walkers know they will benefit from the gentle evening atmosphere, so they take the opportunity to exchange the latest news. The village of 382 inhabitants is quickly overwhelmed. Soon, we leave the asphalt for a trail. After having skirted a cornfield, here is the first sunken path. The shade of oaks and chestnuts softens the temperature a little.
In this grove spared by the consolidation of the 1960s, the hills follow the valleys, where streams flow, new promises of refreshment for hikers. “On apersee, in the distance, the bell tower of Saint-Rémy-du-Plain “, observes Michel Pelé, 66, one of the “leaders” of the Rando. The ride allows him to recover: in the afternoon, this former employee of the aeronautical industry, cycled 80 km!
He meets his future wife
The hikers, in file two by two, arrive at the bottom of the hill. They walk along a stream before crossing it on a ford. A place where we like to linger when the sun diffuses its last rays. But already, the brightness decreases. The path goes up, still bordered by deciduous trees. Calves raw. No risk of bramble scratching or nettle stings: the technical services, informed by the association, have carefully cleaned the course.
“It’s a really pleasant hike, we can appreciate the nature that surrounds us without being sweaty”, says Christopher Staines. This 64-year-old Englishman, who has been living in the region for thirty years, even admits that it was during this walk that he met his wife Ghislaine. Since then, he would not miss this excursion for the world. It is part of markers, who recognize the route upstream. The temperature goes down again.
In the dawning darkness, walkers do not always distinguish the way crosses, in granite, erected between the 17th and 19th centuries. It is 9:30 pm A bell tower emerges in the axis of the path: that of the church of Noyal, already! In two hours, nearly seven kilometers were covered. Night is falling. Some leave immediately. Others hang around a bit. With good reason: in the back of his car, Louis Dauphin, 85, took out a bottle of his best cider. Fresh.